Umuganda 

Sat. February, 25

Today we did Umuganda with a community from the Bushenge sector in Nyamasheke.Umuganda is a day when the community participates in a Public Work project such as; cleaning the ditches, picking garbage off the street, or helping build a vulnerable person’s home. We ended up doing the latter, which was educational, relationship strengthening, and fun!

We first helped harvest and carry some small, long trees to the site, then we helped place mud to create the walls. We passed large balls of the mud from one person to another. This was a mixture of dirt, water, and straw stomped together with their feet. From there we stuck the balls of mud on to the skeletal frame of the house. If there were any spots that were not covered by mud, we would take fist-sized chunks and throw them at the house. Then another person would smooth the mud out with their flat hand. It was really exciting as people laughed and talked together while we worked. I, Nathaniel really enjoyed working with the people of the community! It just so happened that I got to meet the Vice-president of the Bushenge district (whose name was Martin) while building the house. The wood we helped carried was used to finish the structure of the building (which was only half complete when we arrived).

Afterwards, we attended a village/community meeting, which we (unfortunately) did not fully stay for. It was said that the community leaders would give medals to some of the people who were outstanding citizens. Participating in Umuganda is mandatory and everyone must help. Those who did not help were fined 5000 Franks ($ 6.09 USA), unless their baby was sick, one of their animals got lost, or they had a very good excuse; then they would not get fined. (5000 Franks is A LOT for some of them.) For example, if a farmer worked hard all day, they would earn around 1000 Franks, and a taxi driver would make 2000 to about 3000 a day.

We headed back to our lodging both very dirty and tired, but very spiritually satisfied.

Nathaniel

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